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Owner Liability for Injuries Caused by Dogs

Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year (per the CDC), over 800,000 of whom require medical attention. Dogs may be the source of otehr injuries as well-- for instance, a dog may jump up on someone and knock them down, or cause a bike rider to fall off their bike.

Owners may be liable under one of the following categories:

The "one-bite" law - A dog owner is liable for injuries their dog causes if they had reasons to know their dog might cause some type of injury. A misinformed understanding of the law is that every dog gets a "free" bite, which isn't necessarily true. While the first bite puts the own on notice that the dog might be a danger, so does growling threateningly, snapping, or jumping on someone, among other behaviors. Owners may escape liability if the injured party provokes the dog or knowingly risked being injured by the dog.

Strict liability statute- Under this statute, the owner is liable if their dog bites/ harms someone who was legally allowed to be where they were when the bite/harm occurred and they did not provoke the dog-- even if the owner had no reason to believe their dog would behave as they did.

Unreasonable carelessness- if negligence was shown in controlling a dog, the owner shall be held liable. For instance, an aggressive dog was in their pen, but the gate was left unlatched and the dog escaped and caused injury to someone.


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